Recapturing the secret to Cayman’s success

Part I:
Time for Cayman to “think different”

Part III:
How happy is Cayman?

Reinvent or Die

Thoughts, ideas, insights to focus Cayman’s businesses on continually assessing and even reinventing themselves to compete in our rapidly changing world.
In my last column I challenged all of us that are a part of “Cayman Inc.” to be willing to “Think Different”, to be crazy enough to think we can change things and help our country thrive and succeed in the increasingly competitive global marketplace.
I’ve received much feedback from that column, which is the entire idea. We have to get talking about the big ideas and be prepared to change the way we do things if Cayman is to regain a commercially competitive edge as a country.
Before looking to change though, it is often valuable to look to the lessons of the past. Looking back, Cayman’s success was rarely based on radical innovation, but instead on a) being just a little bit ahead of the curve, and b) being quick to market with that slight competitive advantage.
I’ve heard lots of ideas that could make a real difference for “Cayman Inc.” All too often though, these business ideas are accompanied by criticism of factors creating obstructions instead of helping, such as:

  • Difficulties in working with multiple departments / agencies of Government to gain the relevant approvals and assistance.
  • Need for legislative change to facilitate new ideas and difficulty and length of time involved in achieving such change.
  • Perceived or actual conflicts of interest restricting us from being as open to new ideas as we should, as well as deterring overseas investors and partners.
  • Key stakeholders too often thinking “inside the box” instead of outside it.

If there is too much “friction” in the gears of business for “Cayman Inc.” to apply new ideas in a timely fashion, there is no point in bouncing around new ideas until the conversation is applied to how to “free up” those obstructions, so let’s address some.
First, government. It is all too easy to blame, but the speed of motion and willingness to act is something that has changed in Cayman, particularly in recent years. We need to demolish the silos, destroy the empires, and get back to the times when our Government (both elected and their supporting bureaucracy) applied a kind of “Rotary Test” to private sector ideas. If an idea is true, fair to, and of benefit to Caymanians, it should be driven through, and quickly.  Anybody or anything that slows down that simple process needs to be cut out, and now.
Next, it is difficult to avoid, but several of the councils, committees and boards that we now have contain membership that shouts out the potential for conflicts of interest.
No doubt those selecting the groups feel they chose the best people, but perception can often equal reality, particularly to potential investors and other commercial stakeholders outside Cayman who can only see the position held without knowing the strength of the individual as we do here in Cayman.  Cut back on the alphabet soup.
In addition to perception, we can also see areas where actual vested interests and agendas are clearly driving agendas. In this regard, I would simply point to the lack of open-minded thinking that was guaranteed from the outset in selecting the authors of the Miller report.
So, your homework for this month. Let’s talk to each other about these issues Remember, as Victor Hugo said, “there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come”, and ideas don’t propagate without conversation.

Email your thoughts to me at [email protected] on “freeing the gears” and on new business ideas, I’ll do my part in keeping the conversation going with next month’s column.